Saturday, September 19, 2009

working things out...

It is soooo good to be home - to not have to go to the hospital everyday. For Debbie to sleep at home (although last night on the couch next to Jake) and for Rob to be home is phenomenal. Honestly there has been a lot of silence though. I think we are exhausted. There is a lot of adjustments to be made. The routine of medication and bandage changes is lead by Debbie. We are still dividing things that she will be primarily focused on Jake and I will lead with Jensen and figuring out career focus.

Jacob has three therapy appointments this next week: physical, occupational and speech. He is walking tremendously well though we are still right next to him. He has very good use of his left hand but very minimal still with his right. At this point we are scheduled for surgery on his thumb on October 2nd.

I write this in our family room and right now 5 friends are here making Jacob a breakfast burrito. They came in and took over the kitchen - tremendously awesome. Having been in youth ministry forever - this is totally comfortable. It also has livened Jacob's day. It is hard for him at times - wishing all this would go away - he told me it is a "nightmare". Now though, in the midst of hanging with his friends...he is just Jacob. That is what he longs for - to be Jacob again. And though I am so thankful and amazed that I have my son back on the couch, I understand and hurt for him.

We celebrated Robbie's 20th birthday today with a special cake made by Pam the wife of one of the nurses at the Burn Unit. Here is her blog: Pam's Custom Cakes The best part I think was having all my sons home and also having Jim and Sue and their son Justin with us. On the one hand we are back home, but on the other hand home will never be the same. And Jim and Sue are a big part of that - a big part of our family. They were with Jacob and Debbie every night - making sure they had dinner - watching over them - putting them to bed. We all highly treasure them.

Today I had the opportunity to participate in a funeral for a friend. He chose to end his life. Sitting there watching everything, listening to others, trying to share a bit of my own, listening to his two wonderful children - I could see the hand of God. I could see it in the early part of Larry's life as he lived a life trying to line up with God and later in life when he seemed to fully reject God. His life took a turn - through choices he made and circumstances beyond his control - he chose to walk away from God. It is so so easy to allow life to crowd out hope, faith and love. It is so easy to get distracted what is most important. It is so easy to miss the majesty of God - because of the veil that covers our eyes. It is so easy to miss God.

Even now with all that we have been through and the miracles that we have seen - it is easy to miss God in the midst of today. It is still easy to say I do not care about the miracles - today is too much, too hard. And yet God is still in today. God is still in the midst of rehab, sadness, the fear of being unable to make it up the hill ahead of us. God is still trying to get our attention that we might surrender our hearts over and over to him.

Phil 2:12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

In the midst of each moment - Lord show your face to me. Help me to work out my salvation - surrender to you. One moment in your presence far outshines anything else in this world.

Peace and love

Tom (Dad)

News and Concert - time for bed - here is the link to the website if you want to see the interview.

We went to the concert tonight. Jacob just wanted to hang out in the back room and see his friends. It was great to watch him - he commented on the way home that they just treat him like Jacob and do not freak over what happened. He longs to feel "normal"...praise God for his friends who see him as still "Jacob".

From what we saw - great concert - thanks to all who worked so hard and for all that attended.

Continually blessed,

Tom (Dad)

Friday, September 18, 2009

We are at home.

We are at home. Not just us but with dear friends helping us to move back in...Debbie is taking a nap, Jake is dozing next to me on the couch. Jensen is off talking with Robbie. Life is a bit settled. Okay settled may be the wrong word. We have as best we can all the medication organized - refrigerator cleaned out and bottles of anti-biotics are taking over - along with the protein drink supplements. Life is re-organized. Our friend Jim is helping us by creating a spread sheet for all the bandage changes and medication timings. We walked out of Kaiser with bags of medication and bandages.

We are also waiting for "Jacob's Story" to air tonight on Ch 46 - KION - it is a Monterey Bay station. Sorry if you can't get it where you live. It should be on the website tonight as well. Olga called tonight to tell me when it would be on - she has been very gracious through this process.

Jacob said he does want to try to go to the benefit tonight - so we shall see. He is pretty tired right now - still snoozing next to me.

Lord, thank you seems so weak right now.
In the midst of this moment we know greater peace,
greater joy, greater celebration than I can remember.
After the depths of sorrow in the midst of rebuilding,
in the blessing of the miraculous, in the hope of restoration
we have seen your hand - that in itself is blessing.
Not just that prayers have been answered,
not just that life has been saved,
but we rejoice and cry thank you as we have seen your face.

Tom (Dad) at home
In car with Jake heading HOME.


I am writing this at 12 30 AM. I'm getting up at 6 to catch my flight home... can't sleep yet. By the time this posts I will be on the plane.
Amidst all this joy, amidst all this celebration of Jacob's homecoming, I am finding it difficult to fell "happy." For some reason, in the middle of this great step in Jacob's recovery, there is one word that describes how I feel: burdened. As I think about what I am going home to, I feel beat down, tired, weary... utterly scared of what God is doing.

It is crazy for me to just peruse through the archives of this "Journey Through Fire" blog... if you have time, do it. Maybe read an old one, or just browse. It is overwhelming, and I get this sense of despair thinking about what we have been through and where we have come from. It is overwhelming. It is a burden. But God isn't done.

Earlier I posted about how encouraging it is for me to see examples of Jacob's faith through this time. Finding sorrowful, burdened joy in that. My dad told me that the speech therapist asked Jacob if he practiced a religion. He answered, "Christianity." After the therapist went out, he turned to my dad and said something to the effect of: "I wish I had said something different. Robbie and I had been talking about that." Something deeper.

Which leads me to expand on something that my dad wrote in the last blog.

Maybe our role IS NOT to come to moral decisions via all means of theology and philosophy, thus being able to offer judgment on others and tell them how much they suck. We see someone who does not follow our moral code and we say, "Wow, they are really screwed up. If they only were to be like me, then God would approve and love them and save them." I cannot express how much I detest this. This is so far outside of the actual message of Christ as I understand it. And it shows up in some of the ways we operate, at least things that I have observed. Christians today seem to be replacing spreading "Christ" with "spreading the Christian worldview." Whatever the heck that is. Basically saying that we need to get people to "think like us so that God can love them," rather than learning how to love people and help people and care for creation, we learn how to "defeat" atheism, how to intellectually persuade people, and how to develop our "personal" relationship with God as independent from everyone around us; we effectively throw up more and more walls around our ivory towers, rather than open up to the destruction of humility. Is this the right way?

Maybe our role, instead, is to offer hope to the hopeless. Offer love to the loveless. Offer homes to the homeless. Offer healing to the brokenhearted. To be a love and a hope for people that are broken and bleeding and scorned by society and shut out by institutions.

Maybe the message of Christ is not just one more set of beliefs to ascribe to, but is a literal way to inject hope and love into the broken, to be able to humble ourselves and sit down next to someone as they wallow in the mud, crying out to God, and simply cry out to God with them.

Maybe this is why I feel so burdened. Because I now see how many other people in the world are feeling this same burden.

How do we offer hope and love in this way? Look around you. Who are the people who are rejected? I mean really. Who are the people who you feel uncomfortable around? Who are the people who we are told to be scared of and avoid, who are bad influences? These are the people that need the hope that you have. The people whom Christ spoke against after all were the Pharisees, the people who were so wrapped up in their religious institution that they had forgotten how to love. Think we can draw parallels between then and now?

Here is a song by one of my favorite bands, Thrice, called Come All You Weary:

Come all you weary with your heavy loads
Lay down your burdens find rest for your souls
Cause my yoke is easy and my burden is kind
I’ll take yours upon me and you can take mine

Come all you weary move through the earth
You've been spurned at fine restaurants and kicked out of church
Got a couple of loaves sit down at my feet
Lend me your ears and we'll break bread and eat

Come all you weary
Come gather round near me
Find rest for your souls

Come all you weary, you cripples you lame
I’ll help you along you can lay down your canes
We’ve got a long way to go but we’ll travel as friends
The lights growing bright further on further in

Come all you weary
Come gather round near me
Find rest for your souls

Rest for your souls

Come all you weary
Come gather round near me
Find rest for your souls

Rest for your souls [x3]

-Rob (Jake's brother)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Jacob Homecoming Eve"

So much happened today:
  • Ramp has been built up our front deck thanks to Eric and Rudy.
  • Bed has been set up thanks to Dick and Don.
  • We have a wheelchair, commode, and walker - thanks to Debbie C. (who also hooked us up to Eric and Rudy).
  • Bob (thanks Carrie) came and dusted the room.
  • Tanner was my gopher and slave.
  • Jacob had his stomach tube changed. Not removed - due to the pending surgeries but - changed to a smaller one.
The living room at home is pretty much ready for Jacob. I am sure we will change things once he gets here but for now...oops I still need to make the bed -sheets are in the dryer. Though it is ready I still have this sick feeling before your wife comes home from a trip and the house is not as good as she would like it. But Deb assured me that she does not care. Jacob is excited to come home. I called tonight and Jacob answered Debbie's phone - he told me that he was enjoying Tomato Bisque - it sounded full on like my Jacob - so very, very cool.

God has orchestrated so much to make this an incredible homecoming. Robbie turns 20 next week and chose to come home not just for that but also for the benefit. Now he is coming home not just to hang with Jake but to bring him home with us. Incredible. I will pick him up from the airport and then we will go gather up Jacob and Debbie and once Jensen is home from school we will be home and for the first time since June 28th we will all sleep under the same roof.

Put on your pink suit and do a little dance.

I spoke with several people today: at church, on the phone, at Jensen's school, at my house, etc. People that I have not talked to since Jake's accident and some that I have never met before. When they comment on this blog and on Jacob's journey, I am having a hard time understanding the feeling that I get. The only way to describe it is to combine words: thankful-embarrassed-confused-caring-appreciation-humility-love. I guess overall it is gratitude that you are all following - not just following but truly joining us on this journey - owning us as part of your family - including us in your hearts. Then it is humility feeling very unworthy of this kind of caring. And I think there is a sprinkling of guilt - that we should get this attention.

Most of all though in my heart there is a growing sense of burden. What we have received - this outpouring of love is so amazing - so transforming. Yet we live in a community in desperate need of hope - in desperate need of love - in desperate need of transformation. As Jacob was talking to the reporter last night I heard him say "I just want to help people." I am not sure that they picked up on it - I sure did. Perhaps as we go to the benefit tomorrow night, as we watch the newscast with Jacob's Story, as we continue to live our lives - we might allow God to use us to help people - to transform a community. Simple dream as I dream and pray for the benefit and Jacob's Journey: "Lord, pour out your love in Santa Cruz (and the world); through those that love you; help us to love others. Allow your Spirit of love to impact all who cross our paths."

There is such excitement when we bring home our newborn child. I feel this same excitement - okay check out Robbie's excitement in this picture - not my scowl. It is a life changing moment. There is a lot to do in bringing home Jake but there is no greater joy.

God is in this. We need to pay attention.

Tom (Dad)

Friday Night at 6pm

Just saw a commercial on KION for a special story tomorrow night at 6pm "Jacob's Story".
Can we tape it and watch it during the benefit? Craziness.
Running around cazy-good crazy. Have all med equip we need. Thanks everyone. TV interview last night and this AM. Getting house ready for JK.

Going Home (Brother's perspective)

I could not have picked a better weekend to be visiting home. I have been planning to fly up this weekend for at least a month... booked an early morning flight for Friday morning. And I already had in my head that whenever Jacob did go home, I would skip whatever I had to to come up and be with them in that transition. And now it's happening... and I am flying up already. What a blessing and a joy it will be to be with him in that time.

Speaking of blessing and joy... I will write more on this later, but wanted you all to know that it has been an absolute joy to hear my dad's stories of JACOB's faith in all of this. He is asking the tough questions that we have already asked (and haven't found answers for). He is mindful of God's presence. He is empathetic and compassionate toward others around him. As I write I begin to form tears again, because God is doing what I have been asking... working on his heart as he sleeps, preparing him for the next phase of the journey... but they are not tears of joy, they are tears of pain. Because I can see what pain he must go through because of this transformation. Why, God, was it necessary to take him down this path? Couldn't there have been a better way?

I will do the same thing as my dad, and take a passage of the Bible completely out of context to try and convey the idea of my brother's homecoming and what it means to me. It is about Jacob and Esau, two brothers. The last time they saw each other there was great animosity between them:

"Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: "This is what you are to say to my master Esau: 'Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.' "

When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him."

In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, "If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape."

Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, 'Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,' I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, 'I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.' "

Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two maidservants. He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept."

Robbie (Jacob's bro)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Going home...

I am sitting in Jake's room amazed. Debbie called me this morning and said that when the doctor was taking the staples out of his head (45 not 30 my mistake) he mentioned that there was no reason Jake could not go home on Friday. I being the calm and rational person totally freaked when Debbie told me. "We are not ready. There is so much to do at home. Tell them we need more time." Debbie reached through the phone and slapped me upside the head and calmly said "get things ready, he is coming home." A few phone calls and messages later we are getting ready. Amazing - and still thankful for so many waiting in the wings for a chance to help.

So here we go. Jacob is coming home - not in two weeks but in two days. Crazy, amazing, wonderful. My son is coming home.

I know this is not quite the same context but these verses really speak to me here...

Luke 15:20, 32

"So he (the son) got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him,
he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him...we had to celebrate
and be glad because this brother of yours was dead
and is alive again,
he was lost and is found."

Going home on Friday...

Tom (Dad)

The celebration suit...
Praise God. You are not going to believe this but we were just told that Jake can come home on friday. He had 30 staples taken out of his head for the skin graft and the surgery on his thumb will have to wait for the doctor's schedule so we are in scramble mode - really good scramble mode. We already have a bed lined up but are in need of a wheelchair, walker and bedside commode if anyone can help.

Joy and awe

Tom (Dad)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

one more tube to go...

I just wanted to do a quick update while I have a chance.

Jake got his second drain tube out of his back - only tube left is the one to his stomach which is developing cobwebs due to non-use. That should come out in the next couple of days - he is getting all his food through his mouth and medication either through his pic line or by mouth.

Jake can now put weight on his heel for up to 20 minutes at a time and he walked to the window with a walker. We then sat out there for a while. It is about 25 yards from his bed. His next goal by the end of the week is to walk down to the end of the hall. We are moving forward.

I am working today on getting all the ducks lined up for what we are going to need at home and how we are going to get it all. Debbie is following-up on getting Jacob back on track for his senior year. Debbie has been here every night since we have been at Kaiser and is now doing all the dressing changes and is learning all that we need to do for administering medication through Jake's pic line. They told me I have to learn and pass the test too.

I put this computer down about an hour ago when Jake's friends came - he was really looking forward to this visit and is so glad that they are here.

Slowly day by day improvements we will get back to where he wants to be - further seems forever - but time does move and healing will come - it is coming.

Thanks for keeping us going and keeping us looking up - we are so blessed by all of you...

Tom (Dad)

Monday, September 14, 2009

imprint and empathy

So my dad called me tonight and gave me hard time for not posting a blog entry yet...sorry Papa this is totally for you. 

No idea what to write had a wonderful day with Jacob and now Jensen and I are hanging out at home relaxing with our dog Hope. The doctors came through while I was with Jake and raved about his progress - we are moving toward the feeding tube coming out this week and are still waiting to hear about surgery on his thumb. Jake got fitted for his helmet today - he hates it - hates the idea of having to where it and wants so bad to have his hair back. I could see the sadness overwhelming his heart today - longing to be back with his friends - longing to be in his senior year. I made a call to the registrar today to start the conversation about what process we need to got through for some independent study. Good stuff - hard stuff - necessary stuff. 

As I was leaving to night we again prayed and cried together telling each other "I miss you" - kind of what we say in greeting and in passing - "I love you", "we are with you", "one day at a time." I told Jake how thankful I was to be able to have him with me - to be in this process with him. It is so amazing to see the miracles - to look at Jake and know that God is fully in the midst of this. Even in the midst of that though there are still all the questions the wondering why God did not do something just a little different - spare his skull. This is such a reminder of all the questions that we have had over the last 12 weeks. He is entering slowly into what we have known. JK whispered to me today "further seems for ever" - it is the name of one of his favorite bands and he said it seems to be so true too. 

It is a mistake to simply tell someone that we need to look on the bright side and things can be worse. Jake and I were talking about that today - of course things can always be worse but they can also be better - those are Jake's words and he is right. Compassion and empathy is not about getting us to change our perspective but to come alongside and allow the disappointment, the sadness, the grieving to run its course and to move through it to acceptance and restoration. That is what rehab is about. We remind Jake that we are going to move through this to get him to a place where he can and will do that which he is meant to do. Praise God that Jake has full capacity - brain function - body intact ability to move through this. 

Life at times - as we all know - has so much to handle. Dear friends of mine lost their father today. No that is not true. They did not "lose" him - he past away and is now at home with Christ they will never lose him. His imprint is real. I did not know him well but I knew his family - two of his sons - their family - grandkids. Incredible people ALL of them. He has passed on an incredible legacy - his faith living out through them - so many of them - actually all of them - reflecting the kingdom of God in such a variety of ways - all over the world. Hard difficult moments - life changing moments - shape and define us - building deeper levels of compassion - higher levels of empathy - training ground for caring and love. So many difficult journeys are going on: funerals, leukemia, heart issues, cancer, divorces, abuse of children, unemployment, etc etc. Friends and people are going through so much - how are we so blessed in our journey? Why are we able to dwell on the side of miracles? Again not positive thinking but seeing God in the midst of each moment. It is so hard and yet such a blessing. 

Lord, what are you training Jacob for? 
What will you do with all of this? 
I see it blessing so many people. 
So much love has been poured out. 
But what will you do with Jake? 
I can worry and panic and wallow in fear. 
But, Lord, in your strength alone will I stand. 
In faith and in hope we long to see you here and now. 
In faith and in hope I look forward to your plan. 

Thanks Papa for your imprint on me...

Tom (Dad)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Steps of recovery

Jake and I are "watching" the 49er game and hanging out. It is quiet. He just had wonderful visit with some friends who also brought him some In-N-Out. He is tired and dozing. He longs to leave with his friends and hang out - in time that will be true and for that we are so thankful. So much of what is going on right now for him is a catching up - rehab of all the basics of life that we take for granted and do so easily everyday - he is now able to drink from a cup without a straw. A small victory and yet so huge.

Over the last few days it is so hard to sit down and write in this blog. I think part of it is that I am spending more waking time with Jake - taking in the moments - helping him - doing things with and for him. But also it is harder to sit down and sift through where we are at this moment. Though the previous 12 weeks have been so much harder in terms of facing death and tragedy - it is difficult in this time of recovery as well. Jacob is now realizing and dealing with the reality of what is going on. He saw himself in the mirror - does not like what he sees with his skull. In time - through more surgeries - all that is repairable. We remind him over and over again how thankful we are for his life.

Last night Jim and Sue took Debbie to find Jacob sushi; by the way Jacob has made sushi at home and though he makes a big mess - he makes some really good sushi. Jake and I last night had some time alone. We were quiet for a long time - like we are now - yet Jacob was not sleeping. You could see him thinking - pretty soon he asked me to pray with him - pretty soon we were both crying - as hard as I cried when I thought he was going to die due to lung infection and damage. We cried out to God together - begging - thanking - pleading - rejoicing - in pain - in gladness. Jake starting to ask all the questions that we have asked - why? why not? what are you going to do with this God? I see the pain - I see the vulnerability - I see openness. His heart is so awesome - he is so thankful to us for being here - I do not see anger - I see brokenness.

Brokenness is an important word that God continues to bring forth to me. It is not the Humpty Dumpty brokenness with no hope of being repaired; it is God's being broken - surrendered - empty - open - willing to be molded like clay - brokenness that is longing for God to be creator again. We see it over and over again in scripture of people turning to God. When we are broken and then restored God does not just put us back as we were - he makes us closer to what we should be. That is my prayer right now. That God is putting Jake back to where he should be - where God wants him to be - molded to be more and more in the image of God.

In a moment of time - our lives were forever altered. When I am home for brief moments I wonder if all this really happened. I go up into Jake's room - see how it has been cleaned by dear friends - see things we have put there - blessings we have been showered with - quilts, prayer blankets, clothing, signs, cards, etc etc - the journey is real. Jacob is missing part of his skull - has had several skin grafts and surgeries. We have spent 12 weeks in 2 hospitals and 3 different rooms. I remember it is real. We have visited brokenness; known surrender; and we have seen miracles. We are able to talk to Jacob who has full brain capability. He is doing more and more each day on his own. Today he walked with a cane. A cane my father bought when he visited us in Africa - hand carved - when Jacob was 4. Little did we know.

Jacob each day takes huge steps of recovery not toward being like he was but toward being as God intends him to be. I already in the midst of moments with him - see God working in him. I see his heart - kindness, gentleness, compassion. He is making sure that those around him who are coming to visit him are being taken care of, noticing little details. He is blessing us; loving us; caring for us in the midst of his vulnerability.

I showed Jake the picture of the firefighters that saved him and the 911 dispatcher that took the call from Rachel on June 28th. Tears welled up in gratitude as he saw them holding signs that said the were praying for him. Bit by bit we share a little bit more as we communicate to him the blessing he has been to so many and there are so many praying for him.

Jake just woke up - 9er's are still winning - time to watch a little more with him. He appreciates so much his friends visiting and wanted me to put that in the blog. Frequent short visits are best. He is so thankful for his friends.

Col 1:10-14
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and may please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,
being strengthened with all power according
to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance
of the saints in the kingdom of light.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
in whom we have redemption,the forgiveness of sins.

Love and peace,

Tom (Dad)

Santa Cruz Sentinel Article

Jennifer Squires and Dan Coyro spent some time with Jacob on friday. It was truly a pleasure. Jennifer wrote a great article and Dan got some great shots. Check it out here:

We especially love this picture with some of the doctors who we have just loved. Maz (doctor with and to his chin) was adopted by Debbie as a fourth son. He and Jake enjoyed hanging out together - he is from Philly and we are working on his "Santa Cruz" look thanks to Freeline.